Before the BoxNation cameras head to Fresno, California on February 10th to witness the World Title tussle between undefeated Jose Ramirez and the sledgehammer-fisted Jose Zepeda, our man Steve Lillis casts his eye over the division's very best:
One of the biggest ticket sellers in US boxing. In his first World Title defence, Ramirez dropped Antonio Orozco twice before winning on points. He won his title last March after clearly outpointing Amir Imam. The social warrior is still waiting for a marquee fight as many top rivals are involved in the World Boxing Super Series.
Along with Josh Taylor the unbeaten Puerto Rican is getting more attention than most of the 140lb division globally, despite the form of Ramirez. Prograis, who has stopped 19 of his 23 opponents, is fancied to beat Kiryl Relikh in their Super Series semi-final and could then face tartan terror Taylor in what would be one of the division’s biggest fights. After the WBSS final the winner of Ramirez v Zepeda could be waiting for the victor when three belts would most probably be on the line.
The Belarusian used to be based in Manchester and trained by Ricky Hatton. He controversially lost a WBA Super-Lightweight Championship fight against Ricky Burns, and then lost a non-title bout against Rances Barthelmy. He got revenge over the Cuban when the WBA crown was on the line, winning clearly on points. In his Super Series quarter-final he won a tight unanimous verdict against Eduard Troyanovsky.
The Stateside-based Belarusian is unbeaten in 19 fights and his Super Series semi-final against Josh Taylor in Glasgow is a fascinating contest. Baranchyk, 26, won his World Title in October when a badly damaged eye forced Anthony Yigit out after seven rounds. As an amateur he was World Junior Champion in 2009.
The one unification that could be made now for the winner of Ramirez v Zepeda. It’s highly unlikely though as Ramirez is with Bob Arum and ESPN are his broadcasters. Hooker is promoted by Eddie Hearn and DAZN
The tall Texan caused a minor upset when he outpointed Terry Flanagan to win the vacant crown last year. Hooker, who is undefeated in 28 fights, impressed in his first defence stopping face first brawler Alex Saucedo. He defends against Mikkel LesPierre next month.